A New Mother's Day Tradition


With a newborn in my arms and a spring sports schedule that makes me want to take a nap at the very sight of it, I gathered our three older boys around the calendar to help them prioritize what they want to play. 

While flipping through the pages of the calendar, one of my boys exclaimed, “Look Mom!  Mother’s Day is coming up!.  What do you want this year?”

Several ideas immediately came to mind!  There are a few items I would love to get for the house.  There are a few cute outfits I’ve been eyeing at my favorite store in town. And I still have my eye on that paddleboard that feels like a must-have this summer.

But just before I opened my mouth I was reminded of something I was told several years ago by an older and wiser friend named Annesely who has already raised three boys into adulthood. She said,  “When my children would ask me what I wanted for my birthday, every year I would tell them the same thing: ‘Please, don’t buy me something. Instead, pick a Bible verse, memorize it, and recite it to me on my birthday. Writing God’s Word on your hearts is the best gift you could give me.’”

And so, rather than rattling off the items from which my husband and boys could choose, I asked, "Hey boys, do you know what makes me happy?"

They had several ideas. "Watching us play sports."  "Seeing us be kind to each other."  "Eating ice cream with us." 

All very true! But I wanted to dig deeper so I asked again, "But do you know what makes me even happier than those things?"

I had a captive audience now, so I continued, "Being your mom is the greatest joy and privilege in my life. Watching God work in your lives as He grows you into the men He created you to be brings me crazy joy.  I love who you are and I love who you are becoming ...........  So the greatest gift you could give me for Mother's Day would be choosing a Bible verse that you want to memorize, storing it in your heart, and sharing it with me on Mother's Day. That would make me the happiest mom on Mother’s Day.”

Scripture memory isn't a foreign practice in our home.  It’s something we aim to do with our boys regularly so I wasn't suggesting that Mother’s Day should be the one time each year when they memorize Scripture. 

However, we haven’t been as committed to the practice as I’d like, so this was a good opportunity to remind my boys why it means so much to me to see them hide God’s Word in their hearts.

Like all structured spiritual practices, Scripture memory is not about obedience to the practice itself. And the purpose of Scripture memory is not to put another notch in our holy belt so that self-righteousness and dry religion can take root.

Rather, Scripture memorization helps keep our hearts intricately woven with God’s. It gives us immediate access to the love and hope and comfort that his Word provides. It empowers us to fight sin. We hide his Word in our hearts so that we may stay close to his heart.  

"I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. 
Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees."
Psalm 119:10-12

So what's the best way my boys can honor and celebrate me on Mother's Day?  Do what makes my heart the most happy!  Draw closer to the heart of God.

I can't wait to see which verses they choose.  And who knows, maybe I'll still ask for that paddleboard too :-) 

Happiest Mother's Day, my friends! 


jeannie cunnion

Jeannie Cunnion is a Jesus lover and a grace clinger. She is the author of Parenting the Wholehearted Child, and her passion is encouraging moms to live in the very real freedom of God's unwavering love (a message her own heart needs to hear daily!). Jeannie has a Master’s degree in Social Work and she serves on the board of Raising Boys Ministries. She also serves as the Council Co-Chairman at Trinity Church in Greenwich, CT, where she enjoys leading parenting groups and Bible studies when she isn’t cheering on her three boys at one of their sporting events alongside her husband, Mike. Jeannie would love to connect with you on her website at www.jeanniecunnion.com.

Child Sponsorship Lightens a Father's Load


Today I share with you a powerful story of hope. For the times that we feel like our prayers and gifts aren't really making a difference, this real life story will encourage each of us to do our part. 

The story of Florence's family:

Derrick Hakaboya, 30, used to hear his children’s cries of hunger and wonder how he could provide for them.

Derrick, a father of five, lives with his wife, Dysteria, 27, and five children in World Vision’s Hamaundu Area Development Project (ADP) in Zambia. Derrick married when he was 21 years old. A year later, he and Dysteria had their first child, a boy named Fordeth. Two years later baby Florence came along.

Tough Transition to Family Life

Things weren’t easy for the newlyweds. Usually a new couple can rely on the groom’s parents to provide the capital to set them up for married life. But Derrick’s father was dead and his mother had remarried a man unsupportive of her first family.

They went to live with Derrick’s brother, but he had a large family so couldn’t also take care of Derrick and his wife and child. So Derrick and Dysteria returned back to their village with their children.

Derrick wasn’t sure how he was going to shelter, clothe, and feed his family. He’d relied on eating wild fruits and vegetables growing up, but that wasn’t enough to sustain his growing family.

He began to sell charcoal to raise money for food and supplies. But the charcoal didn’t bring in a lot of money. He sold an 11-pound bag for only about $0.45 US cents. He barely scraped together enough to feed his children once a day.

Often the children would cry for food. Florence, who is now nine years old, remembers that time. “I couldn’t feel anything,” she says.

This sent Derrick out of the home seeking day labour just to be able to offer his kids a little more nourishment.

Burden Lighter Through Child Sponsorship

Then Florence was sponsored through World Vision and things began to look up for the family. World Vision provided the family with clothing, blankets (for the cold winter months, mosquito nets (for the rainy season) and school supplies. The assistance allowed Derrick to use his limited resources on food.

“The burden [became] lighter because it wasn’t easy for me to divide the money for buying clothes, food, blankets, but when the child was sponsored, I was able to just concentrate on finding food,” Derrick says.

This also allowed Derrick to come up with a new way of supporting his family as it grew to five children. He began to make bricks and sell those.

He used dirt from nearby termite hills to fashion the bricks. While they dried in the sun, he gathered firewood, which he used to bake the bricks.

A Sponsor’s Extra Gifts

Then Florence’s sponsor began to send extra gifts to the family. With the first gift, the family bought a mattress, two blankets, and a couple of goats. Then another gift arrived. This time they used it to buy tin to replace the grass roof they had.

“In the grass-roofed house there were a lot of leakages during the raining season,” says Derrick. “The grass also was harboring some lice, which was a nuisance to the children.”

Since the tin roof went on the family’s home, they’ve had no more trouble with the roof leaking or with bugs bothering the children.

Florence’s sponsor sent a third gift, which Derrick used to buy some pigs.

“We are just waiting for the goats (and pigs) to multiply. When they multiply, we will probably sell some and buy some cattle,” says Derrick. The cattle will help him work the land.

Right now they plant by hand so what grows goes solely to feed the family. If they can increase the amount of food they grow, they can sell some of the food to help the family out even more.

Florence shares that her sponsor also writes letters. “I feel happy and good,” she says about receiving those letters. She saves them.

Derrick wants his children to be able to finish school. He wasn’t able to attend past grade 9 because he lacked the money. And with the help his children are receiving through child sponsorship, that opportunity appears to be within their grasp.

Florence dreams of being a nurse. Like a modern-day Florence Nightingale, she hopes to care for the sick people of the world.

For now Derrick is thankful for the tremendous support of World Vision’s child sponsorship. During the dry season he and Dysteria can now feed their children twice a day. During the rainy season it’s three times every day.

Derrick says to Florence’s sponsor: “We can really thank that person for the help he brought into the family.” 

I love this story because it shows how sponsorship with World Vision can not only change the life of a child, but the life of their whole family. What a beautiful picture of God fitting all the pieces together.

The purpose of world vision is life in all its fullness...and that begins with the meeting the basic needs of people. For many, clean water is akin to liquid gold. Eating daily or even twice a day is a luxury. 

I encourage you to take a few minutes and watch this powerful video

Click here to learn more about child sponsorship through World Vision.





I was compensated by World Vision for my time in writing this post. All opinions are my own.

Ruth Schwenk

Ruth Schwenk is the creator of The Better Mom, and along with her husband, the creator of For the Family. She is a pastor’s wife, mom of four energetic kids, a lover of coffee, and dreamer of big dreams. She loves leading, speaking, and blogging. Ruth is the co-author of Hoodwinked: Ten Myths Moms Believe and Why We All Need to Knock It Off and two forthcoming books with Zondervan. A graduate of The Moody Bible Institute, Ruth and her husband have been in full-time local church ministry for over fifteen years.

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